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Rating - Nassau William Senior, Poor Law Commissioners’ Report of 1834 
Poor Law Commissioners’ Report of 1834. Copy of the Report made in 1834 by the Commissioners for Inquiring into the Administration and Practical Operation of the Poor Laws. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty (London: Printed for H.M. Stationery Off. by Darling and Son, 1905).
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There are some other matters connected with the objects of our inquiry, on which we do not propose the immediate adoption of any specific measures, because we should be unwilling to embarass the progress of the remedies we deem of paramount importance by any change not necessarily connected with them. The following subjects appear to us, however, to deserve the consideration of the Legislature.
The first is the present method of rating the property chargeable with the relief of the poor. The mode of rating is now, like many other parts of the administration of the Poor-Laws, in the highest degree uncertain and capricious. "It will be seen," says one of our Assistant Commissioners, "by a reference to the Return recently made to Parliament, that in the first ten parishes named, viz. Abingdon, Andover, Arundel, Ashburton, Aylesbury, Banbury, Barnstable, and the parishes of St. Michael, St. Peter and St. Paul and Walcot, in the City of Bath, nine different rates of assessment are now in operation, and these vary in the proportion of one-fifth of the rent or actual value, as assessed at Ashburton, to the full or actual value as assessed at Bath; while at Bridgnorth, a little further on in the Return, it appears that, in the seven parishes of the same town, five different modes of assessment are adopted109 "
Nor is the fractional part of the value on which the rate is professedly made always fixed or ascertainable within each parish.
The Commissioner whom we have quoted says, "Appeals are frequently made to me (as a magistrate) upon this subject, and although it has been my duty as well as my desire to ascertain the fractional part of the real value (for we do not rate on the rack-rent) upon which the assessment professes to be made, in Kensington, where I reside, I have been unable to do so, because I could not find any man in the parish who could state it with accuracy; and my conviction is, that, when once the simple rule of real value is departed from, a door is opened to much partiality and much abuse110 ."
In the town of Southampton, according to Captain Pringle, the assessment for the poor-rates is on a valuation made 60 years since. New buildings are assessed by the guardians, and at a much higher rate; many of the old being rated at about one-third of the rack-rent, whilst the new are nearly two-thirds.
That the mode of rating should be uniform; that it should be according to the actual value, and not any alleged, much less any uncertain or variable fractional part, is too obvious to be doubted; and we may observe, that besides affording a temptation and a cover to partiality and abuse, the present system, or want of system of rating, enables parishes at their discretion to render nugatory the salutary provisions of the 58th Geo. III. c. 69, as to the manner of voting in vestries.
It would be unjust, however, to assume the actual value of rateable property to be identical with the rack-rent. The value according to which property should be rated, appears to us to be the rent which a tenant, taking upon himself the burthen of repairs, could afford to pay under a 21 years' lease.
We have incidentally observed, in a former part of our Report, on the evils which arise from the exemption from rates enjoyed by the cottages or apartments inhabited by the poor, and of the payment of their rents by the parish. The enactment of the 59 Geo. III. c. 12, s. 19, was directed against these evils; but it has been found defective, inasmuch as it empowers, and does not enjoin parishes to rate the owners instead of the occupiers, and because dwellings let at a rent of less than 6l. a year, or for three months, or any longer term, are exempted from the operation of this power. The remedies we have already recommended will lessen the interest of the owners of the dwellings of the poor in the mal-administration of the parochial fund; but we think that for effecting an improvement in the composition and conduct of vestries, and for securing the more full and punctual payment of the rates, it is desirable that the owner of every dwelling or apartment let to the occupier at any rent not exceeding 15l. for any less term than seven years, should be rated instead of the occupiers.
[109.] Mr. Codd's Rep., App. (A.) Part I. p. 50.
[110.] Mr. Codd's Rep., App. (A.) Part I. p. 50.